15 JULY 1905, Page 5

THE CHANCES OF PEACE. T HE diplomatists named by Russia and

Japan to consult on peace have started for Washington, and will no doubt after their arrival hold most interesting discussions on the best form of compromise. They are to meet in some cool watering-place on the North-Eastern coast, and will probably "dance and dine" like their predecessors at Verona and Vienna, who, it should be remembered, though they danced and dined, brought peace a good deal nearer. As there are men of ability among them, they may draw up schemes more accept- able to both sides than any which have been yet pro- posed. Nevertheless, we do not think that peace is near at hand. We see no evidence, in spite of the many statements in the newspapers, that either Tokio or St. Petersburg has surrendered its root ideas. Tokio cannot give up its claim to certain territorial cessions and to an indemnity, and it is said that an indemnity is not even among the concessions which the Russian Plenipotentiaries are authorised to make. The heavy blows recently 'suffered have moved the Court but little. The dis- affection in their Fleet, however extensive it may be, is to them an annoyance, and a proof that the Fleet must be reorganised, rather than a paralysing blow. The mutiny, in fact, as a revolutionary measure has been nearly futile, as in a scientific age like the present every mutiny at sea must sooner or later prove. The men are hopelessly unable to manage such complicated machines as the battleships have become. They cannot obtain coal or provisions except by piracy, they destroy their own friends when they .shell the coast towns, and they rouse in the Army a Service jealousy which deprives them of most of their .strength as propagandists of revolution. The officials say they will build or buy a, new fleet when peace arrives, and that as the sailors were insubordinate the Government is well rid of them. If the leaders of the mutineers had .fully understood their position, they might, no doubt, by steaming at once for Batoum, have called to arms the dis- contented of the Caucasus, who form a most formidable nucleus of force, • and thus have given to the scattered elements of revolution a centre and a programme. They did not, however, understand it ; the soldiers pressed forward at express speed. to the coast towns, and fired when bidden on the sailors ; and we think it will be found that the total effect of the mutiny will be slightly to increase the popular awe of a Government which has felt such a movement so little. Moreover, the most -solid of all the facts in the situation still remains untouched. The Czar has nearly half-a-million men, organised as an army, encamped in Manchuria, capable, at all events, of remaining there until they are defeated. Few observers, even in Russia, doubt that they will be defeated when Oyama is ready ; but they are not .defeated yet, and the chiefs of the army feel, not un- naturally, that to retreat before mere menace, however well founded, would be dishonourable, and would reduce the military force of Russia to a nullity. The business of t hat army is to fight. Its local chiefs say, and possibly believe, they are in a position to fight with a good hope of success ; and the great officers represent to the Czar that if he makes peace before fighting, his dynasty will cease to have a foothold. Armies may retreat without disgusting those who pay them, but they cannot shirk without material loss of power. They even, it is said, threaten him with a Palace revolution if he yields ; and as they undoubtedly could carry out one with a certain ease, it is natural that his Majesty should hesitate to offend the only force upon which in such a time of disorder he can rely. The war is still going on, the comparatively valueless, but exceedingly well-known, province of Saghalien having this week been 'occupied by the Japanese. No armistice is obtainable unless the Russian Emperor asks for it, and to ask for it is to confess publicly before all the world that " mighty " Russia has been defeated in a great war by " little " 'Japan. It is most improbable, therefore, that Nicholas II., a weak and vacillating man, who feels with painful 'keenness how completely he is at the mercy of the garrison of St. Petersburg, will make peace until he is able to say with visible truth : "At least I have fought, and, fought hard, as long as I have had an Army to fight with. My Fleet is gone, my Army is gone, and I have no longer even the relic of a hope in the success of an aggressive campaign. Therefore, though it is opposed to my own interests as well as those of my people, I accept peace."

We entirely admit that there is an element in the situation which renders prediction almost ludicrous in its futility. No one who knows the history of Russia can say that a Palace revolution is impossible, or can fail to perceive that while it may produce political anarchy, com- plicated by a quarrel over the succession, it may also throw up a strong man who may once more marshal in a war, which would then be one of defence, the relics of the Imperial forces. If, however, we put aside dreams, and try to calculate as we should. calculate about any other State and dynasty, we shall see that the Romanoffs are not yet at the end of their resources. The Army has not mutinied. Formidable insurrections have been con- fined to the fringes of the Empire,—Lithuania, Poland, and the Caucasus, and perhaps we should add Odessa. The spasmodic disorders in the vast plain which is the basis of Russian power, and which yields for one detail more than two hundred thousand Cossack troops, are directed. against the landlords rather than the Throne, and. may be abated in a moment by the publication of a popular land law, conceding, say, the demand which seems to be formulated in all the revolting villages,—the grant of half the non-peasant land to the peasantry. The landlords would be ruined, but the Romanoffs could bear that. It is argued that the defeated. soldiery will become on their return, in opinion at least, if not in fact, formidable insurgents ; but they are all peasants or workmen, and the relief of returning to their homes may overpower both the recollection of sufferino, and the shame of defeat. That has been found to be. the case in other States of the Continent, and though the Slav mind is a separate one, the childlikeness which is its distinguishing characteristic does not produce an enduring spirit of vindictiveness. The Russians of the plains forgive as mountaineers never do. In a country so vast and of such imper- fect coherence the people have not the means for pre- cipitating themselves in a body upon the Government, which alone controls great military stores, and has from tradition—or from cruelty, if you will—a habit of acting against its own people with an energy which, evil as its origin may be, bewilders those who resist. We question if throughout the French Revolution there was a single case of six or seven thousand insurgents blasted away by cannon-shot, as is believed to have happened in Odessa. No Government, it is true, can in the long run sit upon bayonets ; but in the circumstances of Russia the great revolution which we all expect, and which most men familiar with history would say was inevitable, may be very slow. It was slow even in France, where nearly four years elapsed between the meeting of the States-General and the execution of the King. It is all very well to talk of finance. Paper is still accepted throughout the Russian plain ; the wealth of the Church has not yet been seized ; and the properties the State can sell are worth more than any probable indemnity. -Unless a regiment as a unit declares against the Throne, the hope of immediate peace seems to us still but faint, for even if M. Witte is in- vested with plenipotentiary powers, the Czar must still ratify the treaty.